At US Capitol, families of Hamas hostages say every day an 'eternity'

Doris Liber holds up a photo of her son, Guy Iluz, who was kidnapped by Hamas, during a news conference at the US Capitol (Drew Angerer)
Doris Liber holds up a photo of her son, Guy Iluz, who was kidnapped by Hamas, during a news conference at the US Capitol (Drew Angerer)

Families of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas went to Capitol Hill Tuesday pleading for US support, as they described days that felt like an "eternity" while waiting for news of loved ones.

Political upheaval in the US Congress, with last month's ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, caused a brief delay in the chamber's ability to act on Israel as it scrambled to elect a replacement.

New Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson helmed one of several press conferences with hostage families Tuesday, on the one-month anniversary of Hamas militants' deadly attack on Israel, during which they took more than 240 hostages.

"Every day is like eternity to me and I can't wait any longer," Doris Liber, whose 26-year-old son Guy Iluz was shot and taken hostage at a music festival, told reporters at the Republican news conference.

Yonatan Lulu Shamriz lived on the Kfar Aza kibbutz on the Gaza border, from which his brother Alon was kidnapped.

"I want to thank everyone here for having us, to the American government that helps us, but it's not enough," he said.

"This is a call for action... this is a wake-up call for all of you here, all of America, all of Europe."

Amid concern over the humanitarian situation in Gaza, House Republican Steve Scalise said it was "not a time to be talking about ceasefires, pauses. Hamas gave that up on the seventh."

On the Democratic side, Congressman Brad Sherman echoed that sentiment, telling a separate press conference that there cannot be a ceasefire "until these hostages are released."

Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress want to adopt soon more military aid for Israel, a long-standing US partner.

Last week the Republican-led lower chamber passed a $14 billion Israel aid package which ignored Democratic President Joe Biden's request to also include more money for Ukraine and other pressing priorities.

The head of the Democratic-controlled Senate however refused to take up the bill, and Biden also threatened to veto it.

Hamas carried out its attack of unprecedented scale on October 7, killing 1,400 mostly civilian Israelis, according to Israel.

Gaza has been under relentless Israeli bombardment since then, with its Hamas-controlled health ministry saying more than 10,000 people, also mostly civilians, have been killed in the Palestinian territory.